Would you pay $325,000 for a burger? Probably not. It's hard to get anybody to pay more than a dollar for a burger these days, but one researcher hopes that its $325,000 burger will one day be cheap enough for the mass market.
The New York Times has a fascinating report on Dr. Post, a researcher that is attempting to make the first in vitro hamburger. In other words, he is growing edible beef in a petri dish. It's real beef too as it's grown from actual beef cells collected from cows.
Dr. Post and his research team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands are almost ready to present the first lab grown burger to the world. It's comprised of 20,000 strips of lab grown muscle tissue combined together to form a single burger. The cost of those 20,000 strips is the aforementioned $325,000 provided by an anonymous donor with the final result being prepared for an event in London.
So, why exactly are we creating "fake" meat? There's beef made from cow that millions around the world enjoy every day, and then there's soy-based burgers for vegetarians and vegans. What need could in vitro meat possibly fulfill? In short, it's more of an environmental move as cows meant for slaughter consume untold amounts of grain and water every year. By reducing the amount of cows needed for meat production, we could increase the amount of water and grain that can go to impoverished countries instead.
It also has the potential to be a healthier alternative to beef cut from a cow. Although, the health benefits may be outright ignored as people come to grips with the idea of eating food that's grown in a lab. Some would argue that it's not much different than eating beef from cows that have been injected with artificial growth hormones, but it will take time for consumers to get used to the idea of eating in vitro meat.
That being said, the meat being prepared by Dr. Post and his team won't be in supermarkets for quite some time. Somebody this year will get to eat the first lab grown hamburger, but they will have to pay $325,000 for the opportunity. Until that price can be reduced to less than $10 for a pack of eight patties, you're not going to see meat labeled as lab grown.